Fisher providing even keel at point

Times Staff Writer

Coach Phil Jackson uttered four words he never envisioned he would say a year ago.

“Yeah, Fish is great,” he said.

One of the untold secrets of the Lakers’ surprising success has been the presence of veteran guard Derek Fisher, who signed a three-year contract last July after asking Utah to terminate his contract so he could seek more advanced health care for his daughter, who had a rare form of eye cancer.

It was an unexpected move that immediately bolstered the Lakers, in many ways.

Fisher, 33, has been a steadying influence on the court and a calming voice in the locker room. He was averaging 11.9 points and 3.6 assists a game while shooting a commendable 47.3% before getting 17 points and four assists Friday in a 124-93 win over Philadelphia.

It’s definitely safe to say he’s an upgrade over Smush Parker.

“He gives us a knowledge of what we’re trying to get accomplished out there and how to operate in our offense,” Jackson said. “He does things with poise and a certain sense of calm. I think that’s the best part of it.”


The Lakers have also been able to rest him for key stretches because of the emergence of Jordan Farmar. Fisher, in his 12th season, was averaging 26.8 minutes a game before Friday. He averaged 30 minutes in 2004-05, 31.6 minutes in 2005-06 and 27.9 last season.

“We haven’t had to push Fish’s minutes this year very much because Jordan and [Javaris] Crittenton are there waiting in the wings to play that position,” Jackson said. “It’s been great for him. He hasn’t had to have a lot of wear and tear on him at this time. He’s still pretty lively and playing pretty well.”

Jackson wasn’t quite as complimentary toward Crittenton, who seemed a little out of control in 16 minutes Sunday against Boston. He made one of three shots and had two turnovers.

“He tried to do a lot of stuff in crowds,” Jackson said before Friday’s game. “He just didn’t have the room for all that fancy stuff. He’s got to move the ball.”

The franchise still thinks highly of Crittenton, who played better against Philadelphia, scoring a career-high 19 points on seven-for-nine shooting. That included a crowd-pleasing play when he made a spinning layup with his back to the basket.

Just the same, Jackson hoped the rookie would stop pushing himself. Crittenton turned 20 on New Year’s Eve.


“He’s got to be patient and he’s not a patient young man right now,” Jackson said. “That’s going to take him a little bit of time.”

Forward Vladimir Radmanovic did not play Friday and could miss three more games because of a sprained right ankle he sustained Thursday at practice, Jackson said.

“The moment that they cut the tape off him, his foot ballooned up in 15 seconds,” Jackson said. “I don’t expect [him] on Sunday” against Indiana.